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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Open for Business

The Mets’ Closing Day Preemption Tour touched down in Philadelphia on Sunday. One week after the final regular-season home game didn’t feel particularly final, the last date on the previously published schedule gave way to one more afternoon that didn’t jibe with the customary rhythms of the baseball calendar. Game 162 is supposed to be the end of all that is right and good in our lives, unless things went overwhelmingly well in the previous 161 games, in which case, rightness and goodness live another day.

So they do, literally, one more day. That day is Wednesday, 8:08 PM at Citi Field, ESPN on your device of choice. It’s us and the Giants, for all the marble…singular. Only one is manufactured in each league, redeemable at the MLB postseason popup shop following conclusion of the extra-bucks contrivance otherwise known as the Wild Card Game. Here’s hoping our team grabs said marble and turns it into a voucher valid for admission into the series of five within the round of eight. All the marble will permit us to continue postponing our goodbyes until we’re damn well ready to express them.

Until then, here’s to the Ultimate Fate TBD Mets of 2016, who won three fewer regular-season games than their direct predecessors, tying the 2000 Mets for slightest franchise falloff from the playoff year just before it. No “Year After” Mets have ever outwon the postseason team that set their bar vexingly high. The 1970, 1974, 1987, 1989, 2001 and 2007 Mets each delivered at least nine fewer wins than, respectively, the 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2000 and 2006 Mets. But by minimizing their stumbles following 1999 (97-66) and 2015 (90-72), the 2000 (94-68) and 2016 (87-75) Mets returned to the playoffs. Though in our hearts they never registered as quite as beautiful a creation, the 2000 Mets went further than the 1999 team. If the 2016 Mets can outpoint the 2015 gang — with whom they seem to have surprisingly little in common — then, boy, are we gonna be happy a month or so from now.

But one marble at a time.

This still-active team of ours got hot for a concentrated spell in April and then went on a lengthier jag that covered late August, all of September and the First of October. The spectacular 13-2 and 27-12 stretches were the Bachman and Turner of our season, providing the Overdrive necessary to take care of business. At the outer edges and in between, the Mets went 47-61. All the pieces added up optimally after 162, which was the only math that mattered.

Notify the MLB Network programming department that by qualifying to keep on keepin’ on, the 2016 season elevates itself into the Top 9 of all Met campaigns. Nine Mets teams have made the postseason, this one included. If you’re just going by records, ’16 wasn’t as sweet as a whole bunch of seasons that preceded it. In fact, it ties 1989 for 16th-best record in club history. The 87-75 Mets of 1989 were a mostly sour experience to have lived through (despite the acquisition of a pitcher nicknamed Sweet Music), as were several Mets teams with larger victory totals. It’s all about context and — let’s face it — expanded postseason eligibility. The 2016 Mets made the most of the former and took advantage of the latter. They’ve earned commemorative apparel, a champagne shower, a prime time slot on national television and, forever more, at least a mention in the chronological procession of pride that until Saturday began with 1969 and ended with 2015. How emphatic a mention we’ll find out soon enough.

Your 1985, 1987, 1990, 2008, 2007, 1998, 1997 and 1989 Mets had more or as many regular-season wins as 2016, but they don’t get to be in the same conversation. Sorry, fellas. Some of you were actually pretty sweet seasons, but your Closing Days wound up as definitive.

Not 2016’s, as perfunctory a 162nd game as the Mets have played and lost in ages. The Mets hadn’t ended a regular season on the road since 2012 and hadn’t finished up on the road on a Sunday — which works much better than midweek for Closing Day — since 2006 (when they also had bonus baseball in Flushing directly ahead of them). The last time the Mets put one of their seasons in the books in Philadelphia, they weren’t done writing it yet. That was August 11, 1994, the eve of the strike that wiped away 49 never-played games and a postseason in which the Mets weren’t on track to participate. Given the lack of familiar parameters, perhaps it’s not surprising that October 2, 2016’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Phillies didn’t fire on many traditional emotional cylinders.

We almost certainly saw somebody perform as a Met for the last time yesterday, but unlike Ryan Howard where we were tuning up for the Giants or Vin Scully where the Giants were knocking out the Cardinals, we can’t yet identify who is leaving us for good. Reflection will have to be retroactive, which is a leading indicator that this regular season was put to splendid use.

The postseason’s applications can be extraordinary. Let’s run as many as we can.

42 comments to Open for Business

  • Kevin From Flushing

    I still can’t believe it.

    The beauty of finishing tied with the Giants and only 1 game up on the Cardinals is it proves how valuable every win is and shines a light on every player’s positive contributions, no matter how small. For sure, we would not be heading into this one game playoff without Jay Bruce. He carried us through our final push. Antonio Bastardo inherited a bases-loaded/nobody out situation in May and wiggled out of it–wouldn’t be here without that. Matt Harvey put together one great start against the White Sox, without which we’d be in trouble. Jon Niese… well… Niese helped us move Bastardo somewhere else and was kind enough to get hurt so Gsellman could walk into the spotlight. Every little thing counts.

    Let’s Go Mets!!!

  • Ken K. in NJ

    So, 9 post-season appearances in 55 seasons. That does ‘t sound as bad as it felt thru all these years. 16.3% of all Mets seasons resulted in post season activity. I’m guessing that would put them about in the middle of the pack over the past 55 years, no?

    And if we allow that our post-season life really only began in 1969, then it’s 9 out of 47 seasons, almost one out of five, even better. Let’s Go Mets.

  • Dave

    I can think of plenty of candidates for yesterday being their final day as an active Met, but that’s a discussion for colder weather and longer evenings. For now, this team has me pumped no matter who’s on the bench or at the back end of the pen. There are exactly zero members of the Giants saying “I sure am glad we’re traveling 3000 miles to play a team that just won 27 of its last 40 games” or “I can’t wait to stand in there against Syndergaard, my at-bats against him are always comfortable.” Mets in 1!

  • Seth

    I feel like the Mets have nothing to lose, and all the pressure is on the Giants. Even if the Mets lose this game, think of what they’ve accomplished in the last month and a half. If the Giants lose, they’ll be remembered for one of the great 2nd half failures in history.

    Of course it will be disappointing if the Mets lose, but it’s pretty amazing that they’re here. For the Giants though, this is much more of a consolation prize…

  • Who will hit the Bobby Thomson type HR to win in bottom of 9th? Would be fitting, for this team, if it’s one of the Riveras or Lagares swinging with one hand.

  • eric1973

    LOL Dave! Mets in 1!

  • mikeL

    a top-nine campaign, and right up there with ’99 in the most riveting category (i was young and came in late to the ’73 team’s home stretch)

    yes, i can remember all those tough losses, and thinking about how much more it would hurt later if the mets were to come up just one short…

    how clutch that the mets could rest yesterday having won the season series v. san fran.
    or that terry gave his famous press conference when he did.

    and yes how clutch was every last hit, play, player that got the mets here on the narrowest of margins?

    funny, yesterday keith talked about the soon-to-be-eliminated cards as having already used up
    their luck with that bogus rbi.

    the mets have taken the high road straight to the finish, a great wealth of karma points for playing hard, playing hurt. playing heroically.

    (my pick for 9th run jack : conforto)

    LGM!!

  • Bob

    ANOTHER Great article by Greg!
    Thank you.
    Beware Giants–they swept Dodgers in Frisco to finish season on high-note.
    Last week or so Hunter Pense has been swing wildly at every pitch in the zip code…I’m sure the Mets have noted….
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • mookie4ever

    Narrative on national media is, those poor Mets, they’re so banged up, let’s pat them on the head for an admirable effort to get to the Wild Card game, but now they face Bumgarner the Magnificent. He’ll tear them apart – it is an even year after all. Makes me want to vomit.

    Good! Let them all sleep on our Mets. Underdog is a familiar place, anyway. And we have a real weapon if Noah pitches like himself. I’m in. Mets in 1! Oh, and it’s Cabby and Yo in the ninth, of course.

  • The Met I look forward to being up in the ninth: Jeurys Familia, top of the inning.

  • Harvey

    Here’s an interesting tidbit. The Mets are now 324-324 .500 at Citi Field since its opening, and 4-4 there in the post season. What’s your record there, Greg?

    • Mets are 4-3 there in the postseason: 1-1 vs LA, 2-0 vs Cubs, 1-2 vs Royals last year…unless this is a comment from a horrible future 48 hours hence, in which case I’m really bummed out.

      My regular-season record at Not Shea: 119-100 (Closing Day pushed me over .500 for the year, at 11-10). Postseason: 3-2.

  • eric1973

    Marlins firing Bonds as Hitting Coach.
    Guess they wanted him to do more than just show the players how to inject themselves.

    Maybe Colorado or Arizona willl hire Wally —- for keepsies this time.

    • Dennis

      LOL……Bonds became their hitting coach this year and Dee Gordon was subsequently suspended 80 games this season for PED’s.

  • Eric

    I’m nervous. Even-year Giants, MadBum. No Flores.

    Syndergaard, Reed, and Familia should be strong. I expect Reed and Familia will be ready to cover 9 outs between them.

  • mookie4ever

    No nerves allowed now. Mets are playing with house money. They shouldn’t even be here. Gotta be a reason that they are after all they’ve been through. Let’s Go Mets!

    • Eric

      I’d feel significantly less nervous, maybe even border-line confident going into the WC game with Flores at 1B or at least available on the bench. What was the last game this season the Mets offense beat a legitimate staff ace? (Montero vs Fernandez?) Let alone post-season MadBum.

      I think about the Tigers being knocked out of the AL WC race by Teheran beating Verlander 1-0. The 1 run was a classic get’em on, move’em over, knock’em in scored in the 1st inning. And that was it. I can see the Giants scraping a run in the top of the 1st, then Syndergaard locking it down from there until he’s pinch hit for in the 6th or 7th inning, but damage done.

      On the other hand, I was the same kind of nervous last year looking ahead to Kershaw and Greinke. But, as elite as they were, they didn’t rise to MadBum’s post-season scariness.

      I wonder who’s going to step up as the 2016 Murphy. Of course, the Mets lefty-heavy middle of the order hitting a few home runs in between striking out would be welcome, too.

  • Mikey

    yeah this year sure feels special. not that last year wasn’t but it’s different. guys, if this comes down to the bottom of the ninth I will have no fingernails left. but a walkoff would be unbelievably sweet…I don’t care who does it. I’m also perfectly comfortable with seeing Familia in the 9th. that would mean we’re almost there, nails be damned. buckle up everyone, LGM!

    • Eric

      I’m curious about Cespedes and the reports he was moody after the Mets clinched Saturday because he hasn’t been hitting well lately.

      Recall that Cespedes played poorly last post-season. Cespedes came back to the Mets for precisely this chance at redemption, and he’s the Mets righty bat to counter post-season Bumgarner.

      Next season is murky for the Mets and for Cespedes. As much as the WC game is an opportunity for young Syndergaard to make his mark by dueling the best of the best in the game, the WC game is a career moment for Cespedes.

  • Let’s just hope Terry doesn’t put Campbell at first base instead of Loney (although a lefty he at least makes contact, has been hitting, and good fielder)….

  • eric1973

    LOL Dennis.
    Great connecting of those dots.

  • LeClerc

    Say Hey Rene !

    Bochy will apply the running game all night long against Noah. Please don’t let walks and/or singles turn into de facto triples. Look for bunts a-plenty (maybe Reyes can play a little bit further in at third).

    If Duda starts, look for Bumgarner to bust him inside repeatedly. If he gets a pitch to hit – by all means swing for the fences. Otherwise BBs or HPBs can be helpful as well.

    I’m looking for Cabrera, Cespedes, and Kelly Johnson to do the significant damage.

    • Yeah, what’s with Jose refusing to play in tighter, with possible bunt coming up…saw three easy bunt hits with him too far back just in last week of season…surely not afraid of ball at 3B vs SS? Giants will bunt for hit at least once knowing Thor tough to hit. Danger of Mets outplaying but losing 2-1 due to steals is very real chance.

  • mikeL

    jose’s speed will be big. if he can get on in the first, maybe the mets get that elusive one run – if it ends up being one of those games.

    it’s a good sign that on the recent offensive tear, the home run was less of a factor.

    even year for giants = more house money in the mets’ account.

    …and may many of the mets outs be productive ones!

  • GroteFan

    The fact eric campbell is on this team, tells us all alot.

  • Matt in Richmond

    About what an epic achievement this is? I concur.

  • NostraDennis

    If the worst happens on Wednesday night, and our guys get routed, I hope and expect that the fans will provide a standing ovation at the end of the game. These guys deserve it.

    Something tells me, though, that the worst will not happen on Wednesday night.

  • Paul from Brooklyn

    Let’s go Mets! The Cubs got swept last year and Thor will set the table tomorrow night. Bartolo will save us yet again! All the Las Vegas “kids” have contributed and just when we were ready to give up on Bruce…….great time to get hot. Looking forward to seeing the captain cheering us on. Jose,Jose Jose,Jose.

    • Eric

      You know what would be an awesome screen shot?

      Syndergaard warming up in the bullpen with intent-faced Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, and Matz, standing alongside Colon, Gsellman, and Lugo looking on.

  • Gil

    Its only 10:12 AM and I have no fingernails left. I suspect by the 5th inning tonight I might not have fingers.

    LETS GO METS!

    Prediction: TJ Rivera is going to get a big hit tonight.

    • Eric

      Just imagine it’s as tight a game as the AL WC game. That must have been anxious for fans.

      TJ Rivera hits like a 2015 Royal, so I agree he’s a good candidate to hit clutch, but then, MadBum beat those same Royals in 2014.